Rajasthan was on Friday rocked by fresh protests against period drama Padmavati with protestors blocking entry to the Chittor Fort and burning effigies of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali even as more political leaders joined the chorus against the movie’s release.
Members of the Sarv Samaj Sanghthan, including Shri Rajput Karni Sena, picketed at the entrance of the fort, a UNESCO world heritage site which houses Padmini’s Palace, demanding a ban on the controversial film.
Shri Rajput Karni Sena president Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi said in Bengaluru that if the film was not banned, the organisation would intensify its agitation across the country.
Authorities decided not to make the scheduled halt of the luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ at Chittorgarh and instead continued its journey to Udaipur due to the protests.
Member of Parliament C P Joshi met the protestors and assured that their sentiments would be conveyed to the people concerned, Chittorgarh District Collector Indrajeet Singh said.
He said the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation decided not to stop the Palace on Wheels train at Chittorgarh in order to avoid any inconvenience to passengers.
Chittorgarh SP Prashan Kumar Khamsera said the fort was not officially closed.
“We were informed by the protesters that entry to the fort will be blocked for tourists. Ample security arrangements were made to deal with the situation. It was a peaceful and symbolic protest,” he said.
Chittorgarh Circle Officer Gajendra Singh said the entry to the fort remained closed till 5 pm for the tourists and people on board the train did not visit the fort.
When asked about an incident of firing reported near the fort, the police officer said they were examining the matter.
Member of the Sarv Samaj Sangathan and chief of the Jauhar Samriti Sansthan, Ummed Singh, said, “A dharna demanding a ban on Padmavati is continuing for the last eight days at Padan Pole. The Chittor Fort remained closed for tourists today.”
The Sarv Samaj Sangathan and some other outfits are opposing a song in the film which shows actor Deepika Padukone, who plays the role of Queen Padmini, dancing in a courtyard and claimed it “crossed dramatic license”.
In Jaipur, the members of Sarv Samaj, support of the Rajput community, demonstrated outside a multiplex in Vaishali Nagar, where the movie was scheduled to be screened, and also burnt Bhansali’s effigy.
In Bikaner, Bajrang Dal activists burnt Bhansali’s effigy outside the district collectorate. A rally was taken out from Tulsi circle to the collectorate and a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was submitted against the proposed release of the film.
In Sikar district, effigies were burnt in Fatehpur and Lakshmangarh, with protesters alleging that history was being distorted in the film.
In Alwar, former minister Jitendra Singh demanded that the central government set up a committee of prominent historians to decide the film’s fate.
Rajasthan Forest and Environment Minister Gajendra Singh Khimsar said he had not seen the clipping which hurt the sentiments of the Rajput community but there must be some reason that the people were disappointed and angry.
“It is not right that filmmakers dramatise history for their profit without considering sentiments of any community,” Khimsar said.
Several other outfits including those of Brahmins have opposed the release of the film scheduled for December 1.
A member of former royal family and MLA from Bikaner, Siddhi Kumari said Bhansali should have nipped the problem in bud. He should have shown the script to Rajput community representatives before continuing with the shooting.
“I have never seen ‘Ghoomar’ dance as presented in the trailer of the movie in the culture and tradition of Rajputs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Shri Rajput Karni Sena’s state chief Mahipal Singh Makrana claimed that he received a call from a Pakistani number threatening to kill Lokendra Kalvi, the organisation’s chief, with a bomb and told them to stop their protest.
He said he had received the call on Thursday from a Karachi-based person reminding him of 1993 bomb blast.
“We have been saying that the film has been funded by terror outfits. It should be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation,” Makrana alleged.
On Thursday, the Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha had held a blood signature campaign and the Shri Rajput Karni Sena had threatened to chop off Padukone’s nose.
In March, Chittorgarh Fort was vandalised by a group of men who broke mirrors installed at the PadminiPalace of the Rajput queen. Three mirrors installed at the palace were damaged by four-five unidentified men.